Taiwan Control Yuan fails to impeach Keelung mayor

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Control Yuan, Taiwan’s highest government watchdog, failed to pass a motion Friday impeaching Keelung Mayor Chang Tung-jung for allegedly trying to influence a drunk-driving case.
The ruling Kuomintang politician was indicted last year after reportedly having threatened and insulted a police officer who had detained a woman suspected of drunk driving. Chang forced police to release the woman by threatening to have the officers transferred, reports said. He was later suspended for three months by the KMT.
The Control Yuan reviewed a motion to impeach Chang on Friday morning, with members expressing confidence it would be approved because of the clear evidence, the Chinese-language United Evening News reported. However, by the early afternoon, it became known that the motion had not been approved, with investigators unavailable for comment. The impeachment was defeated by eight votes to four, reports said.
Three members of the Control Yuan had reviewed video recordings of the woman suspect slapping a female police officer and of Chang hitting a table in anger at the police decision to detain her. The mayor was interviewed twice during the course of the investigation, reports said. A similar motion against his secretary was also rejected.
Opponents of the impeachment reportedly felt that the Control Yuan should wait with a condemnation of Chang until the mayor had eventually received a guilty verdict in court.
Chang was the third incumbent local government chief to be threatened with impeachment by the Control Yuan. Former Taitung County Magistrate Kuang Li-chen was impeached for using government funds on too many overseas trips, though Taichung Mayor Jason Hu escaped impeachment over a fire at a nightclub.
Chang said Friday he accepted the decision of the Control Yuan. Its members who had investigated the mayor’s case said they would consider reopening an investigation if the circumstances were right.
The body’s failure to impeach Chang was said to throw new doubts about the KMT campaign for the December 2014 local elections, which include the election of a mayor and city councilors in Keelung.
The United Evening News said the Control Yuan’s decision might damage the government’s image as it tried to combat drunk driving. The failure to impeach might be interpreted as giving politicians the right to interfere with measures against suspects.
On Thursday, the Control Yuan impeached its own secretary-general, Chen Feng-yi, for destroying documents in violation of the Archives Act. Several records of previous investigations had been prematurely destroyed by Chen, reports said.